Week of Dec. 10th - Dec. 16th
There is a lot
happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will
help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly
believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to
assist you, please feel free to contact us.
Enrollment Ends TONIGHT!
is the last night to open enroll for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) health
plan for 2018! Access to health care is of the utmost importance, and the
ACA marketplace is a great resource to compare plans and meet your health
care needs. Last year, Milwaukee enrolled the most individuals for new
ACA plans, winning the national “Healthy Communities Challenge.”
For a brief refresher of
what the ACA did, the major components of the ACA for patients include:
(1) protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions, (2) an end to
the practice of taking away coverage for sick patients, (3) allowing
youth up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan, (4)
subsidies and tax credits to assist with premium costs, and (5) creating
baseline standards of what an insurance plan must offer.
The impact of the ACA
cannot be disputed. The number of uninsured Americans has decreased from
48 million in 2010 to 28.6 million in 2016, with uninsured rates
declining sharply among low-income families and younger adult households.
Minimal standards of coverage have also allowed more people to seek
preventative care – making our workforce healthier and more productive –
and decreasing our long-run expenses on health care from reduced
emergency room visits and decreased risk of families having to pay
catastrophic medical costs. Families are more financially secure, as the
number of personal bankruptcies (often from medical bills) has fallen
from 1.5 million in 2010 to 766,000 in 2016, reversing the trend of
increasing bankruptcies that has persisted since the 1980s.
I encourage everyone in
the community and across the state to check out www.healthcare.gov to review your
health care options.
Committee Hears Student Entrepreneurship Legislation
Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions, and
Rural Issues heard testimony on Senate Bill 404. This bipartisan bill,
which I co-authored with Sen. Patrick Testin,
exempts the $130 application fee to form a limited liability company for
university and college students. I believe that we need to invest in our
young people and encourage entrepreneurship. After all, entrepreneurs
drive small and startup businesses that make up the backbone of our
state’s economy. For instance, in 2014, small businesses employed 1.2
million Wisconsinites – making up over half of our private sector
workforce. Despite the importance of these companies, Wisconsin lags
behind the nation in business startup activity. For the third
straight year, Wisconsin ranked dead last in the nation for business
startup activity under rankings by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
This trend hurts our state’s ability to attract and inspire
entrepreneurs. Senate Bill 404, will not only provide needed assistance
for our student entrepreneurs, but it will help Wisconsin attract and
retain a sustainable workforce capable of growing and moving the state forward.
More Taylor Bills Become Law
Friday, Governor Walker signed three bills that I co-authored into law.
The bills, Senate Bills 396, 300, and 308, seek to address the ongoing
issues around human and sex trafficking. Wisconsin’s sex trafficking
problem reaches both rural and urban areas. Research suggests that the
average age of sex-trafficked individuals is between 12 and 14 years old.
Unfortunately, there are adults right here in our own state who prey on
these youth. These bills reflect the need to change our approach to
address the solicitors/buyers of minors forced into sex trafficking,
rather than re-traumatizing the individuals who are often victims
themselves. I am proud to work across the aisle to get these bills done,
and would like to share a brief summary of each legislation below:
Bill 396 – This bill increases the penalty for patronizing a prostitute
if the prostitute is under the age of 18. It is Act 128.
Bill 300 – This bill creates a crime for individuals over age 18 to
solicit sexually explicit material from an individual they have reason to
believe is less than 18 years of age. It is Act 129.
Bill 308 – This bill increases the penalty for patronizing a prostitute
to a Class I felony if an individual has been convicted of that crime at
least two times. It is Act 131.
Administration Guts Consumer Internet Protections
Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality consumer protections.
Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers should
provide the networks that consumers pay for without picking and choosing
which content to speed up, block, and slow down. These protections were
put forth in 2015 by the FCC following calls from millions of Americans
to preserve an open internet. With Thursday’s vote, the FCC opened the
door to creating different tiers of content allowance. Providers can
speed up content that groups pay for, eliminate content that they do not
agree with, or package certain content into “premium” packages, leading
to a more costly and restrictive internet. Even more disturbing is that
the FCC voted to repeal these protections without a single public
hearing, ignored a study demonstrating thousands of pro-repeal comments were fake, and ignored a poll showing 83
percent of voters
support net neutrality. Thursday’s vote is the latest in a series of
steps that the 45th President’s FCC has taken to reduce choice
and increase costs for consumers. Previous actions taken by the FCC
include cutting back on assistance for low-income families to afford
broadband and easing caps on how much providers can charge business
customers – hurting entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Graduate Students Engaged on the Issues
Saturday, I was gratified to speak at a rally organized by a non-partisan
coalition of graduate students from across Southeast Wisconsin to voice
their concerns regarding legislative actions recently taken on the
federal level that would have a detrimental impact on students in our
state. Congress has passed tax reform bills that include:
Considering graduate student tuition waivers as income by
eliminating IRS Code 117(d)(5); Taxing employer-provided tuition
reimbursement through changes in Section 127; Eliminating the deduction
for student loan interest payments and Eliminating the ability for
teachers to deduct school supplies. The students gathered at Pere
Marquette Park before walking to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson's office.
Many of the provisions they were protesting will adversely affect
education and have harmful consequences on generations to come. I
applaud these students for their civic engagement, willingness to raise
awareness and work to fight these policy actions.